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This Election Includes Issues Related to Science and Health What We’re Watching is Shown Below
This year’s midterm elections are heavily focused on important issues, including the state of the economy and the future of democracy. But there are also a number of health and science-related issues on the ballot because Tuesday’s elections will determine the future of public health, healthcare access, and affordability.
While Democrats and President Biden campaigned on a platform of believing in science, the narrative is completely different this year. Republicans have frequently attacked scientists and public health authorities in their statements. They have demonized Anthony Fauci and denounced public health strategies used to limit the COVID-19 pandemic, such as mask regulations and economic lockdowns.
If Republicans decide to look into the decisions made by federal health agencies, it could cause problems for Biden administration officials. Control of Congress would also have a significant impact on how money is distributed to those agencies.
Additionally, there are a number of noteworthy ballot initiatives, including one in Arizona that would reduce medical debt for patients and another in Colorado that would legalize hallucinogenic mushrooms for the first time.
Midterm elections are tomorrow — are you ready to vote your values?
Tune in for our latest episode of At Liberty as we break down key ballot measures, the role of elected offices, and what’s at stake for abortion access, LGBTQ rights, voting, and more.https://t.co/n7vPDzOmeX
— ACLU (@ACLU) November 7, 2022
Continue reading to learn more about the elections, referendums, and healthcare issues we’re keeping an eye on Tuesday. Voting on abortion is now more common than ever. Abortion may be the health concern that voters are most concerned about as the 2022 elections approach.
After the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade’s federal abortion protections in June, 13 states immediately imposed restrictions or complete bans, and a nationwide frenzy of legislation and ballot measures ensued. This Tuesday’s state elections include a record five pro-abortion proposals in addition to a Kansas ballot initiative that was ultimately defeated.
Making abortion a constitutional right would protect California, Michigan, and Vermont against future anti-abortion legislation and position them as prospective safe havens for expectant women fleeing states with abortion restrictions.
Similar to voters in Kansas, voters in Kentucky will decide on a proposal that would effectively ensure that abortion is not regarded as a constitutional right. Finally, Montana’s ballot initiative is a replica of “born alive” legislation that mandates medical care for a fetus who is born prematurely or survives an abortion in 18 other states. The measure’s detractors claim that it is medically unnecessary and that it is being used to mobilize opposition to abortion.
Democratic congressional candidates are hoping that the tide of support for abortion rights will carry them to victory outside of state elections. According to polls, there is some progress in that direction, but probably not enough to maintain their majorities in the House and Senate.
While many Republicans have backed away from stringent anti-abortion laws, others, like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), have made federal limits, like those he has advocated, a campaign promise. However, they are treading lightly with voters: Blake Masters, a Republican running for the Senate from Arizona, has attempted to present a more balanced image of his views in recent weeks after labeling abortion “demonic” during summer campaign rallies.
Campaigning that is anti-science, anti-Covid, and anti-Fauci. The outbreak Biden promised to end, but persists. Public health officials are warning that a winter variation could result in a new case surge because death rates have stabilized at over 2,000 per week, new vaccines have stalled, and death rates have plateaued.
Republicans have taken advantage of the public’s weariness to criticize federal health officials over mask and vaccine restrictions, remote schooling, and economic lockdowns, while Democrats denounce such assaults as anti-scientific disinformation.
GOP legislators who are likely to assume committee leadership have pledged to look into the causes of Covid-19, the funding for the Biden administration’s pandemic response, and important medical figures like NIAID Director Anthony Fauci.
A fractured and divided national response to public health and pandemic preparedness is likely as a result of the midterm election results, especially if Republicans win the House and the Senate. However, it has come up in a few elections, in part because a few Senate Republicans decided to introduce a plan that would completely overturn Democratic reforms to drug pricing, including limitations on how much seniors must spend annually for prescription medications.
The Republican senator from Florida, Marco Rubio, has taken the greatest heat for his stance, which has garnered widespread media attention. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) eventually backed off promises to force Republicans to vote on the policy, so the issue has faded from many candidates’ minds.
This summer, Democrats had hoped to hammer Republicans on a vote to strip insulin cost protections for patients with private insurance from their domestic spending bill. Sen. Raphael Warnock, a Democrat from Georgia who is in one of the most challenging elections in the nation, was officially in charge of the insulin cost cap bill.
Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.), who is running for the Vermont Senate this cycle, is another contest to keep an eye on. He stands to gain more influence and a larger platform. As a member of the Democratic leadership in the House, Welch played a significant role in promoting drug pricing reform.
During the Democratic trifecta, Congress actually passed a lot of legislation, including bipartisan packages on gun reform and semiconductor manufacturing, emergency funding for Ukraine, changes to veterans’ health care benefits, and two sizable party-line bills stuffed with long-standing domestic policy priorities. However, there were plenty of spats among Democrats over the direction of the party’s domestic agenda.
Prepare for gridlock if Republicans take over one or both chambers of Congress. Over the next two years, it will be more difficult to secure votes for every candidate and funding cycle since some moderate Republicans in the Senate are planning to retire.
That has significant effects on healthcare. Despite their promises during this legislative session, Congress has yet to give the Biden administration extra funding to combat the Covid-19 outbreak or deal with new dangers like monkeypox. The National Institutes of Health director has still not been chosen by Biden. Additionally, Congress’ most important pandemic preparation law is up for renewal next year and would require support from both parties.
Where the substance is missing if Republicans assume control of one or both the House and Senate, rhetoric critical of the Biden administration will reach a fever pitch. The political future of lawmakers like Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) depends on their commitment to holding public health officials accountable.
Health-related problems like the federal government’s response to the Covid-19 outbreak, requests for records from health officials, and studies carried out by researchers with governmental funding could be the focus of the investigation.